Exodus 19: At Mount Sanai

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 50–51


Moses was on Mount Sinai when the Lord called him to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage (see Exodus 3). The Lord promised Moses that after he led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they would “serve God upon this mountain,” meaning Mount Sinai” (Exodus 3:12). After the miracle at the Red Sea, Moses wrote a song in which he said that the Lord led the Israelites out of Egypt so they could be in his “Sanctuary,” which is “in the mountain of thine inheritance” (Exodus 15:17).From the time Moses was called as a prophet, it was part of God’s plan to lead the children of Israel to Mount Sinai—a place made holy by the Lord. According to the Doctrine and Covenants, Moses sought to bring his people into the presence of the Lord through the ordinances of the priesthood (see D&C 84:19–24). Today we might say he wanted to take them to the temple to receive power from on high. For Moses and the children of Israel, Mount Sinai was a temple—a place where the Lord could make Himself known to His people. Keep this in mind as you read Exodus 19.
Israel camped at Sinai

Understanding the Scriptures

Exodus 19

Peculiar (v. 5)“‘Valued treasure,’ ‘made’ or ‘selected by God’” (Russell M. Nelson, in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 44; or Ensign, May 1995, 34) 
Sanctify, sanctified (vv. 10, 14, 22–23)Make holy, pure, and clean 
Against (vv. 11, 15)In preparation for 
Bounds (vv. 12, 23)Limits 
Take heed to yourselves (v. 12)Be careful 
Border (v. 12)Boundary 
Descended (v. 18)Came down 
Ascended (v. 18)Went up 
Charge, chargedst (vv. 21, 23)Command 
Lest (vv. 21–22, 24)Unless 
Gaze (v. 21)See 
Break forth upon them (vv. 22, 24)Appear to them 

Exodus 19—The Exodus As a Symbol of Our Journey Back to the Presence of God

The following diagram shows an outline of the journey of the children of Israel as a group and how their journey is a type of the one we make as we seek to return to the presence of God.

Studying the Scriptures

Do activities A and B as you study Exodus 19.

Activity A iconMoses Goes up and down Mount Sinai

Exodus 19 contains the account of three times Moses went up and came down Mount Sinai. Moses ascended Sinai to speak with the Lord and then traveled down the mountain to deliver the words of the Lord to the people. At the same time, Moses tried to prepare the people to be worthy enough to also ascend the mountain and commune with the Lord. The following diagram may help you organize the chapter by outlining Moses’ trips up and down Sinai.

Summarize what happened on each of the occasions noted above. Read in Exodus 20–23; 24:1–8 what happened on the next occasion Moses went up Mount Sinai.

Activity B iconPrepare for the Temple

Elder J. Ballard Washburn, of the Seventy, said, “We cannot go to His holy house unworthily without bringing upon ourselves the judgments of God. For God will not be mocked” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 12–13; or Ensign, May 1995, 11–12).

  1. 1.

    List the truths Moses or the Lord said in Exodus 19 that emphasize the importance of what Elder Washburn taught.

  2. 2.

    Why is it important to be worthy before entering the temple? (see D&C 97:15–17 for important help).